The Eagles held the Rockets to just two first-quarter points in a 64-24 rout.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
SLIPPERY ROCK -- Using a tenacious defense from the opening tap, the George Junior Republic basketball team swarmed all over the Slippery Rock High team for a 64-24 walloping Friday at the Rock Box.
During the first eight minutes, the high-scoring Tigers (18-2) netted just 11 points, but the Rockets (11-10) could only manage two.
"We didn't exactly execute in transition early," GJR coach Bob McConnell said. "But while we didn't get into a groove early, I thought we played as defensively as we have all year in all four quarters.
"I don't think our guys were ready for the physical play that was going on out there," McConnell said. "When we got them settled down, they started playing a little tougher and finishing some things."
Senior night: For The Rock, it was senior night, and that meant that coach Chris Burtch had the opportunity to rest a few injured Rocket players as well as showcase his seniors.
"Brett Codispot and Luke McCaffrey were banged up pretty bad," Burtch said. "Brett pulled a muscle in his back and Luke sprained his ankle pretty bad Wednesday in practice.
"We tried to use it as a game to let the seniors just go out there and play. They played as hard as they could and I thought they competed," Burtch said.
"But George Junior is just so big and so good that when we play them on this little floor, it was just tough for us to get shots."
Big rally: In the second quarter, the Tigers went on the prowl to tally 28 points. John Brown scored 11 of his game-high 16, Shaun Simpson had nine of 15 and Benson Callier added eight of his 14.
"Simpson has been playing great ball since returning from his suspension," McConnell said. "He is re-motivated and playing good defense and rebounding well."
Burtch agreed with McConnell as to the improvement of the Tigers over the past month.
"Like any team that goes deep into the playoffs every year, they are starting to play their best basketball of the season now," Burtch said. "They are definitely not the team we played three or four weeks ago.
For Slippery Rock, Scott Rice led the way with 13 points.